- PhMuseum Days 2023 Open Call
Dates2019 - 2022
In response to my ongoing project “Touch” which I started during an artist in residence at the Chinese European Art Centre in Xiamen, China, I was approached by Jurek Wajdowicz - artist and director of Graphic design studio Emerson & Wajdowicz Studios (EWS) to produce an extensive photography project about the LGBTQ community in China. EWS specializes in socially-conscious multi-media design and art. They design a series of photography books completely devoted to LGBTQ-themed stories, showcasing the rich diversity and complexity of its communities around the world.
In September 2019 I traveled to Xiamen to start this project. I portrayed 14 young queer people (couples and singles). I found all of them through my existing network in Xiamen and we got into contact through. Apart from the photographs I took of these subjects and their personal surroundings, I also interviewed them about their life, love and also, their personal fears. Because of the pandemic I haven’t been able to return to Xiamen. This is why, two years after my trip to Xiamen, I decided to continue the project here in the Netherlands, Germany and Paris, photographing young Chinese people from the LGBTQ community there. In total I portrayed 31 people for this project.
By the turn of the last millennium, same-sex relationships were once again legal, and by 2001, homosexuality had been declassified as a mental disorder. But the stigma against queer people still remains. Recent reports from China have noted government attempts to clamp down on LGBTQ media and events, and numerous citizens are still being sent by family members to conversion therapy.
Hardly any of the young people I photographed for this project are able to speak openly to their parents about their sexual preference or gender identity.
"While faces and bodies have been photographed from all angles since the 19th century, queer communities have been sidelined by the world of photography. Today, we finally give them a face. With this series, Sarah Mei Herman brings to light people who live too often hidden from our view. Her photography allows us to open up to them and allows them to open up to us.” (Quote)
—Nathalie Herschdorfer, Director Photo Elysée, Switzerland
The book was be published by The New Press in New York and released in December 2022.